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It finally came!  After much anticipation, the Wizard of Oz blew into the TPAC, and now it’s gone.

wizard-of-oz

For Christmas (and his birthday), we got my dad tickets to see Wizard of Oz onstage at the TPAC here in Nashville.  I’m not sure how I made this discovery, but it was months before the tickets even went on sale.  And I waited and waited to get the best seats I could.   Because not only was this my dad’s favorite movie, thus making this a great gift, but I, myself, was very much looking forward to seeing this.

So Dad got his ticket for Christmas, it was all he could talk about, and on Friday, January 16th, my whole family plus one drove into Nashville.  We all loved it!  Personally, I was so impressed with the music and dancing, and I loved how they used the screen for the backdrops and another for the tornado.

The family stayed until Sunday morning.  Friday, before the play, we ate pizzas at the apartment and celebrated Dad’s birthday early with some yummy cake from Coldstone, Peanut Butter Playground.  Saturday we took everyone to the Opryland Hotel.  We left before supper and headed back to the apartment for leftover pizza and hours (literally) of DDR competition.  Thanks to the parents for that Christmas gift!  And everyone got into the action, and I mean everyone…

Then last weekend, on Saturday, we headed to Alabama to celebrate Jeff’s mom’s birthday.  We gave her presents, ran downtown to eat lunch at the Chicago Cafe (always good) and then headed back to the house.  Jeff’s parents and I watched FIREPROOF while Jeff and Patrick played for hours.  It was a great visit.

P.S. GO BUY FIREPROOF, IT STREETS TOMORROW!

I’m sorry folks, but it is true.  We love our Nashville home, don’t get us wrong.  And we don’t wish we lived there versus here… but we really did enjoy the live music in Memphis.  Blues is so much better than country. 

Anyway, the only way we learned that is because we were in Memphis celebrating our ONE-YEAR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!  Yep, we made it one year.  Nothing but smooth sailing now, right? 

So…  in honor of our first anniversary ever, we decided to disappear for the weekend.  And I think we did it quite successfully – – no cell phones and no computers. 

We headed out West Saturday morning and rolled into town with Graceland as our first stop.  One of our first thoughts:  It’s not as big as we’d imagined.  The thought that we left with:  This man is honestly quite talented and a good man.  I enjoyed the visit and would recommend it to anyone.

Jeff was in charge of dinner reservations, and Saturday night he made reservations at The Majestic Grille.  It was a trendy little place on Main that had some good burgers and bbq.  Those particular items were pretty reasonably priced as well.  Definitely a place I’d recommend.  We followed dinner with a walk down Main and Beale and a little listening over at Wet Willies (yes, no joke), where an awesome band was playing.  Our only regret was that we didn’t get to hear more of them.

I was in charge of the hotel, and I picked the Hyatt Place.  Not only did I get a great deal on the price, but I thought these hotels looked pretty snazzy and wanted to see for myself.  We really liked the hotel’s vibe.  I loved the bed (although Jeff didn’t sleep too well), but we don’t recommend the food.  It’s not bad, just nothing special.

Sunday we stayed in, enjoyed our surroundings, caught a couple movies on the TV, then exchanged gifts before heading out for the evening.  With the help of our friend and our wedding photographer, I gave Jeff a picture of us with parts of my vows on it in a pretty cool frame.  The whole thing turned out awesome, if I say so myself.  And Jeff seems to love it.  We both had a laugh after realizing that the card he gave me says practically the same thing as the frame I gave him.  Another reason why we’re perfect for each other!  heehee  Oh, and he totally surprised the heck out of me by getting me diamond earrings.  This boy is on the road to spoiling me!

Before dinner, we took a detour to The Peabody to see the ducks.  How comical.  It’s nothing spectacular, but you’ve got to see it if you get a chance.  And Sunday night Jeff did excellent (of course) on the dinner selection as well.  Next door to The Peabody was Texas de Brazil.  The food was insanely good.  You start off by eating off their salad bar, which is much more than salad – – there’s also a variety of olives, cheeses, meats and all kinds of yummy.  When you’re ready, you flip your little card over on the table to green and out comes the parade of meats.  However much, whatever kind you want.  And they even brought out well-done meat for me!  We tasted filet minion, steak, Brazilian sausage, lamb, parmesan chicken and pork.  And with the meats you get mashed potatoes and fried bananas.  I have never had so much delicious red meat before in my life.  Delicious!

Before heading back to the hotel for the night, we went to BB Kings to check out their music, and once again we were pleased.  Live music is so much fun for us.  Good live music, that is.  And when there’s old men cutting a rug in cowboy hats and red suspenders, well that’s just added entertainment right there.

So thank you to everyone who wished us well and have celebrated life with us, whether daily, at the wedding or in between, before and after.  And thank you to my husband for giving me a reason to celebrate January 12th and steal away to Memphis for a very special and thoughtful weekend.

Pictionary drawing of low-rise jeans done by Ashley in a game of Cranium

Pictionary drawing of low-rise jeans done by Ashley in a game of Cranium - notice the butt cheeks sticking out.

“Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And never brought to mind ?
Should old acquaintance be forgot,
And days o’ lang syne ?”
Auld Lang Syne (that song we sing on New Year’s Eve)

After a great week of Christmas with Ashley’s family and meeting up with some college and high school friends, we headed home to Nashville last Monday. Tuesday, Ashley lounged around the house, ran some errands, and I (Jeff) did a little bit of work in the morning.

We worked out at the YMCA and saw Four Christmases in the theater. It was a great movie about the holidays and the importance of family, which was great to see in between spending time with our two families.

Wednesday, we bummed around for awhile; then, Ashley went shopping, and I worked for part of the day. For the “eve” portion of New Year’s Eve, we had a fairly low-key night, ringing in the New Year. We ended up hanging out with our Nashville wedding photographer friends Zach and Jody Gray. They’re becoming some of our favorite game-players.

We like playing guys against girls, except when the girls are really good at the game, as they were with Taboo. I think they somehow peaked at the cards while Zach and I were eating pizza or something, because they seemed to know every answer.

Pictionary drawing of head gear by Zach in a game of Cranium

Pictionary drawing of head gear by Zach in a game of Cranium

So, we were forced to school them in a game of Cranium, during which we watched the ball drop. Highlights of the game were correctly spelling difficult words backwards (I once was the 6th grade spelling bee champ, you know), drawing amusing representations of head gear and low-rise jeans, and molding Ms. Pacman in clay (great guess, Zach!).

We said “Happy New Year” to one another, drank soda out of champagne flutes, and kissed our spouses. It was an interesting night for Ashley and me, because we were also, in a way, celebrating our first year of marriage. While we won’t actually have our anniversary until January 12th, it was significant to realize how quickly this year has flown by for us.

The next morning, we woke up and left the apartment before breakfast time to head to Alabama. We were welcomed by the Goins family and a full-fledged breakfast for lunch (what some people might call “brunch”). In the afternoon, we exchanged gifts and watched a few movies.

Jeff, Patrick, and finished gingerbread house

Jeff and Patrick posing seriously before their gingerbread masterpiece

In between movies, my little brother Patrick, Ashley, and I built a gingerbread house. 

Have you ever built one of these? They’re quite easy, when you buy the kit. (If you want to do one from scratch, check out this website. We tried this once before during Thanksgiving and failed miserably.) It may be one of the most gratifying experiences one can have, even if the frosting is a little sugary (so says Ash, anyway).

After the “construction” project, we eventually did a little “demolition” with our mouths. I liked the gummy chimney and jelly bean shingles.

Jeff and Patrick celebrating their newly-constructed gingerbread house

Jeff and Patrick celebrating their newly-constructed gingerbread house

Ashley and I took my sisters (Nikki and Marissa) to The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, which was a little longer and less exciting as expected.

While the critics are raving about this new Brad Pitt movie, we found it strikingly similar to Forrest Gump and The Notebook. However, it did have a great message about not taking life for granted and living it to the fullest. Seeing this movie and then returning home to Patrick and our wondrous gingerbread creation really drove home the point of seeing the world through the eyes of a child.

We ate a late dinner of baked potatoes with chili, hung out just a little while longer with the family, and then hopped back into the car for the two-hour-long ride home (okay, so maybe we took another chunk off of the gingerbread house just before heading out).

We had a good ride home, and even stopped at a gas station to get soda in glass bottles (everything tastes better in a glass bottle). We crashed as soon as we got home and had a pretty lazy the next day. It was a great way to ring in the New Year.